Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oregon Historical Society Library to Close

Some really shocking and rotten news out of Portland, OR this afternoon: due to budget cuts, the Oregon Historical Society will be closing its research library as of this Saturday, 28 February. The library, which has existed since 1899, houses the largest collection of archival documents related to the history of Oregon, including "more than 32,000 books, 25,000 maps, 12,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 4,000 serials titles, 6,000 vertical files, 18,000 reels of newspaper microfilm, 8.5 million feet of film and videotape, 10,000 oral history tapes, and more than 2.5 million photographs."

The library will be closed to the public after the 28th of this month, and current positions are being eliminated beginning on 13 March; some staff will be retained to manage photograph and film reproduction orders.

No word on when or if the library will reopen, or what will happen to its collections.

More here.

1 comment:

George Vogt said...


Please note that, contrary to many statements on blogs and in emails, the library is not closing forever. At the request of the staff, we closed it for a few weeks so that the departing staff could finish various projects and clear backlogs. We are reopening soon, and the executive committee's action yesterday to allow some deficit spending, will ensure access to all types of collections, not just photos, reference, and film. We should know within the week what the schedule of hours will be, and I believe they may be about the same as before we reestablished the state appropriation in 2007, i.e., about 12 or 15 hrs per week. We added staff and extended service hours to 32 per week, including Saturdays, as a result of the appropriation, which is now in jeopardy.

I think there is a real chance that OHS will see no appropriation for 2009-11. That, plus the other revenue losses, would take almost $2 million from the operating budget--somewhere in the 40 to 50% range. Much of the remaining budget is basic to whatever programs we operate: utilities, security, insurance, IT, development, finance, maintenance, etc. The museum/education staff consists of three full-time people.

Here is the statement we issued on Friday.

Update Regarding the Research Library

1. The Board of Trustees has authorized two additional positions in the library, which will enable OHS to provide access to archival collections, rare books, reference materials, and microfilm, in addition to photographs, films, and videos. These positions are funded through the end of May and may be renewed if funding is available. This brings total staffing to the level of 4.5 positions.

2. Library staff members will work with management and our wonderful library volunteers over the next two weeks to develop and announce a new schedule of hours for the library. The new schedule will be posted on the Society’s website as soon as it is available, on or before March 31.

3. The Board of Trustees is actively in discussion with various entities about long-term solutions for the library. The Board understands that the library collections are a major resource for scholars and the general public alike. The Board also understands that the dedicated library staff members are an important and irreplaceable asset because of their specialized knowledge of the collections. No one on the Board feels that closure or heavily restricted hours of access to the library is an acceptable long-term solution.

4. All members of the Board urge citizens to make their views about the library and state funding known to your state legislators. The process of developing the 2009-11 state budget has begun in Salem, and now is the time for action.

George L. Vogt
Executive Director